Focaccia on the Grill

Our good friend, Jim Amaral, is a baker and owns a fabulous statewide bakery called Borealis Breads.  He uses organic wheat grown by farmers in Aroostook County (or “The County” as it’s called) and has done more for the quality of bread making in the state than any other business around.  He and his family came sailing with us a few years ago and when he saw my woodstove, his first comment was about how great it would be to bake flat bread on TOP of the stove.  Of course I’m used to cooking stews and the like on top of the stove, but baking bread had never occurred to me.  We tested it out that week in many different ways.  After several tries and the indignity of having smoke billowing from my galley, I now use the stovetop at least once a week, most often to make a basic flatbread.  I clear the pots off of the stove and then clean it.  I don’t oil it because of the aforementioned smoke, but simply throw down a fairly thin piece of dough directly on the stove surface.  I find myself needing to move it frequently as there are many hot spots that will scorch the bread.  (Those black spots are now affectionately called “flavor” in my family, thanks to Jim).  Once I’ve flipped the bread over, I oil it and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  This bread should be served immediately.

A way to recreate this effect, should you not have a woodstove handy, is to grill it.  Much more modern!  I started grilling bread while working in the Caribbean as a chef on a yacht as a way to reduce the heat in the galley.  It was a perfect accompaniment to meals made with fruit salsas, peppers and spices.  It’s a twist on a very traditional way to cook bread as some folks do in tandoor and adobe ovens. I’ve included some of my favorite toppings here.  These variations will stand on their own as a meal, or could be an appetizer or an accompaniment to an entrée.

Focaccia Dough

To make ahead of time:  in the morning make the dough, cover and refrigerate until the afternoon or early evening.

1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting

Combine the yeast, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir in all the remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup water.  Add more water if needed. With a dough hook: knead for 15 minutes on low speed.

By hand: knead for 10-15 minutes (only 15 more minutes to make that daily exercise goal!). Oil the bowl and the top of the dough, cover, and set aside in a warm, draft free place to rise until doubled (about 1 hour).  Or all day if in the refrigerator.

Preheat grill on medium heat.  After the first rise, turn the dough out onto a floured counter, divide into four equal pieces and shape into loose balls.

Work all four pieces flat either with your hands or with a rolling pin.  If the dough is fighting you (keeps shrinking back when you stretch it), just let it rest for 5 minutes and continue.  Place them on a big, floured cutting board and walk them to the grill.

Brush the tops of them with olive oil and transfer to the grill, oil side down.  Cook as many as you can at one time – usually two.  Grill with the lid on for 4 minutes on one side and turn.  Brush with olive oil and then place the toppings on and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill for another 4 minutes with the lid on.  Remove and cut into 9-12 pieces.


Ricotta and Proscuitto
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2oz. proscuitto

Lay the proscuitto slices on and then dot with ricotta cheese.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Pancetta, Oyster Mushrooms and Goat Cheese
I found local oyster mushrooms at our coop and couldn’t resist the combination.  They were so fresh that I just gently broke them up with my hands into the pan.  You can substitute button mushrooms if needed.

4 oz. pancetta, diced
4 oz. oyster mushrooms
4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Heat a medium sized skillet on medium high heat.  Add the pancetta to the pan and cook until almost rendered.  Add the oyster mushrooms and cook one minute more.

Spoon the mixture over the focaccia and dot with goat cheese.

Feta, Lemon, Red Onion and Dill
4 oz. feta cheese
3/4 cup red onion, sliced
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Sprinkle all of the ingredients on top of the focaccia and once the focaccia has finished cooking, squirt with the lemon juice.

Tomato and Basil Pesto
This is a standard combination that I made for the kids, turns out they liked the one with ricotta and proscuitto even better.

1/4 cup basil pesto
1 tomato, sliced thinly
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Spread the focaccia with the basil and distribute the tomato slices on top.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

One thought on “Focaccia on the Grill

Comments are closed.